James Alcock on JCI World Congress 2011, Brussels

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James Alcock on JCI World Congress 2011, Brussels

Posted By admin |27 Feb 2012
James Alcock on JCI World Congress 2011, Brussels

What is JCI all about, well I'll tell you. And this information does not come easily, it's taken the best part of a year for me to work it out. Finally, in Brussels, the answers came to me.

I arrived in Brussels with an open mind and passion for learning, I was greeted with more passionate, energetic and enthusiastic people that I have ever seen gathered in one place, loads to learn plus amazing vibrant parties and free beer.

The opening ceremony was where the global size of JCI hit me. Walking into Expo Centre 1, a huge hall, a little early, yet there were tons of people, greeting old friends, waving their country colours and generally being happy and excited. Pumping music from the stage setting the ambiance for the night, people milling around, old friends greeting each other after a year apart, people wrapped in flags - hugging to say hello. Rows of seats happily guarded at four corners by a representatives from the country who had bagsied them. The hall filled fast, suddenly the music stopped, the sound of chatter waved to a close and through the huge speakers came a booming voice -"Welcome to JCI World Conference 2011, Brussels". The crowd went wild!

Gly James and Dan at the opening cerimony

Glyn, James and Dan - First timers at the opening ceremony

The president from each country attending was introduced, one by one they walked down the stage, each with their own swagger, some getting huge cheers for their artistic entrances. This must have gone on for fifteen minutes, country after country, finally the UK's president Allison Cowell was introduced, our section of the crowd went WILD, Union Flags waving everywhere. It's at this point I realised what a massive organisation JCI is, packed into the hall were 4000 people from 100 different countries, all friendly, all with something in common.

Soon after the opening address we made our way to a brewery where we were greeted with food, beer and entertainment that will knock your socks off! Each day ended (and started) with such a party. It was here that friendships were made out of acquaintances from the day.

The day time was about learning and meeting people, the options for learning were long and diverse. Leadership, public speaking, networking, CSR, and marketing. Key notes from high flyers and business leaders and inspiration from people who have done amazing things. It was whilst at the conference I finally realised, after the best part of a year, what JCI is all about. At some levels it's about networking with local business people, going to training events to better myself and helping to organise these events with the council team in Sheffield. But really JCI is all about making positive change in our community, it takes one person to make a difference that can ripple and affect many. There are members from other countries who get this message and they are doing amazing things to help their community by setting up projects. In doing so they are learning new skills, making new friends and, perhaps most importantly, putting something back into their community.

I have been back for one week now and I am still trying to take it all in. To be around so many people from such a variety of cultures and backgrounds with no barriers to interacting was humbling, exhilarating and sometimes emotional. As I sit typing this I miss it greatly, but I now have the passion, drive and goal to help JCI Sheffield achieve something amazing! And, because of the team in Sheffield, the UK and globally, I'm looking forward to the coming year immensely.